Aug 14 2013   11:24AM GMT

Wear a pan on your head: how North Koreans evade Big Brother

Bill Goodwin Profile: Bill Goodwin


North Korea’s first smart phone has shades of Big Brother about it. Korean leader, Kim Jong-un revealed  the phone, the Arirang, at North Korea’s may 11th.

Tellingly he was accompanied the Korean Worker’s Party propaganda chief, which rather suggests North Korea views the new phone as a perfect conduit for delivering government sponsored news to the population.

But the Arirang, which is apparently a customised Android phone made to order for the Korean government in China,  is a break-through of sorts.

To date North Korea has restricted mobile phones, to ensure they cannot access the internet, and can only be used within the country.

Not that that has stopped many North Koreans, particularly those living near the border, using illegally owned foreign to contact people abroad.

Owning a foreign phone is a serious criminal offence, but the North Koreans are nothing if not ingenious at evading detection.

As one North Korean told researchers back in 2010: “In order to make sure the mobile phone frequencies are not being tracked, I would fill up a washbasin with water and put the lid of a rice cooker over my head while I made a phone call,”

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